Message of solidarity to the metro workers of Sao Paolo Brazil

To metro workers in Sao Paulo Brazil,

The New Wave Bolshevik Leninist, on behalf of the working masses of India greet you. We are a revolutionary organization in India struggling to rebuild the Bolshevik Leninist party in South Asia and the fourth international globally.

We express our solidarity with the strike action which you have decided to take. At the time when the world is watching the developments in Brazil around the Fifa World Cup, your strike action sends a strong message both to the capitalists in Brazil and capitalists worldwide. A message that they cannot take the lives of the working class and poor for granted ! That we won’t be pacified with shows of glory ! That the masses can and will fight for what is our just needs.

In this endeavour, we stand in solidarity with you and all the struggling people of Brazil.

In India too, we have seen the arrogance and intransigence of the capitalists during the Commonwealth games. Billions were squandered in scams and wasted over gaudy construction projects all to make the rich richer while the poor stayed poor. Hundreds of workers even died during the mega construction projects like the stadium in New Delhi where bonded labor was used for construction (despite it being illegal!) but the government turned a blind eye to this reality. That government has been justifiably thrown out of power, but the capitalists remain.

Should you succeed in your struggle, it will be an inspiration for the workers here fighting against capitalists who are just as corrupt, just as ruthless and just as brutal.

Long live international Solidarity !

Long live working class unity !


PSTU statement on the revolt in Brazil

[Here we are reposting the statement from the PSTU, the Brazilian section of the International Worker’s League – Fourth International. The revolt in Brazil is one of the most significant events to occur in Latin America in recent times and represents a re-emergence of radicalization in Brazilian society after a prolonged period of consolidation of bourgeois power. The revolts also present an interesting continuum of popular national upheavals. In this it stands together with the uprising in India against corruption and rape, the uprising in Turkey against the Erdogan government and to an extent bears resemblence to the Egyptian uprising in terms of the class composition of the protests. The role and importance of a direct intervention in the movement under a revolutionary leadership has been recognized by the PSTU and is reflected in this statement, which gives it a special importance. We welcome the encouraging developments in Brazil and give our fullest support to the struggle of the Brazilian people against their capitalist enemies.]

State and municipal governments recoil on the increase of fares

The demonstrations against the increase of fares on public transport (trains, underground and buses) that broke out several days ago and spread all across the country (Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, many state capitals and important inland cities have just obtained the first important triumph: state and municipal governments have reversed and annulled the recent increase. Having participated actively in this process, in which hundreds of thousands of people walked out into the streets, the PSTU and the IWL greeted this first triumph joyfully.

Neither is this the only triumph. In an event unprecedented in these last years, Brazilian Congress will hold special sessions during this winter recess to deal with an agenda proposed in an impassioned speech delivered by Chairman Renan Calheiros (of the PMDB, a right party, allied with the PT in the government. To begin with, an overwhelming majority rejected the PEC 37[1] proposed by the government, one of the strongest demands of the demonstrators; a sample of the power of demonstrations and the policy of granting concessions to try and hush them up.

Demonstration began and swelled in a seemingly unforeseeable manner in a country seemed so “calm” and, to judge by appearances, out of the world process of mobilization and struggle. What we have witnessed was a great process of mobilisation, so far essentially of youth and popular sectors. This is a new generation that joins the struggle and begins writing their part of history. Polls show that for over 75% of the demonstrators this was their first experience; 94% of them did not belong to any political party. At present the demonstrations seem to be spreading to the poorer and more peripheral neighbourhoods of the great cities.

Evidently, something has changed in Brazil, after nearly two decades of “peace and quiet”. This is not only due to the massive character of de demonstrations, but also because they defeated the “sacred entente” between the governments, parties and the bourgeois and forced them to recoil. It will not be until within the forthcoming months that we shall be able to assess just how deep this change is and what its impact will be in the future. Especially there is the question regarding whether the organised working class will join the process fully or not. The greatest depletion and political cost had to be so far borne by the governors (such as the Geraldo Alckmin of the PSDB (nation-wide right opposition) and the mayors such as Fernando Haddad of the PT (Workers’ Party) in the Sao Paulo city who applied the increase and ordered the repression. But the Dilma Rousseff of the PT administration was booed at the opening night of the Confederation (football) Cup. So far she seemed to be just as “armoured” as her predecessor Lula was against the effects of economic crisis, inflation or constant corruption scandals. Today, the first “holes” appear in this “armour”. Also the first clear symptoms of splits in the bourgeoisie in the bourgeois milieu regarding the manner to cope with this ascent even if all the bourgeois sectors – as we have seen – consider granting concessions as a starting point.

From the criminalisation of the protest to withdrawal and cries for “peace”

Initially, the different governments and the bourgeois press chose the policy of attacking the movement in order to justify the very tough police repression. They called the demonstrators “vandals” and demanded “severe treatment” for them. This was what the powerful Globo TV Network did or the newspaper Estado de Sao Paulo who editorialised, “It is time we said enough” to demonstrators.

However, as crowds kept moving and spreading, it became evident that they had the support of most of the population, so authorities had to change their position. The live broadcasting of the demonstrations and the evidence that it was the military police (depending on the state administrations) that were causing violence (including mugging journalists) turned against the authorities and increased popular support for the protesters.

There even have been some journalists, such as Jose Luis Datena, right-wing host of a popular TV programme who switched from launching quizzes against demonstrators to openly giving them his support when the ample margin of popular support for their demands could no longer be concealed.

In the same way, the governments coming from different political parties switched from the repressive course of action to bewilderment and to summons for “dialogue” and finally to recoiling from the increase of fares. Even the very Dilma administration, who swung away from a statement issued by her Minister of Justice to the effect that Federal Government would make all efforts to make sure that state administrations could control the situation (i.e.: send repressive forces the way she did in Mina Gerais) and concluded by saying that she was “all for democratic demonstrations and would hear their demands”. (Sic)

Travelling is expensive and rough

It was the increase of fares for public transport what triggered off the whole process in the entire country. The increase was very small really (20 cents of real or 9 cents of a dollar). But this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Public transport in Brazil is among the most expensive ones in the world. Even before the latest increase the price of a trip in Sao Paulo by bus or by underground is $1.40 (a combined trip costs 2.11). This represents a total monthly expenditure of about $100 dollars (more than 40% of a minimum wage and between 15 and 20% of the income of those who collect twice or three times as much, which is the case of most of the population of the country. Of course if there is nobody else to spend the same amount. On the other hand, the price of ticket has been increasing far above the rate of inflation. That is why, according to Institute of Research of Applied Economy, there are 37 million people who cannot afford to pay for a trip in public transport and are forced to cover long distance on foot or to ride their bicycles.

But the quality of travelling is getting worse and worse because urbanisation and the growth of the great cities have not been paralleled by equal investment in transport that would satisfy the demand. Public transport comes hand-in-hand with precariousness and rising prices of all the remaining public services. Trains and buses are overcrowded, and accidents are frequent and are part of a tough routine that is repeated twice a day. The extreme slowness of traffic in towns and cities more and more full of cars as an outcome of the impulse given to car production in detriment of development of the much cheaper and much more efficient railways and subways.

“Zero fare” is possible

The metro and the commuter trains in Sao Paulo belong to the State- Buses are under concession to private companies and represent a huge source of income highly coveted by sectors in alliance with the public power.

This profitable business produces an important daily income of ready cash. Buses transport an average of 42 million passengers and collect $180 a month (data from April 2013) for tickets. Apart from that, in 2913 the municipality will pay grants for nearly $600 million a year. Apart from these direct subsidies, the companies also enjoy benefits recently announced by the Federal Government such as tax and social contribution exemptions.

Mayor Haddad estimated that free public transport in the city (“Zero fare”) would cost require just over $2 700 million a year in financing. This figure, according to the spokespeople of Free Pass Movement (MPL) coincides with the increase of the takings estimated by the municipality for this year.

In 1990, a project presented by the very same PT presented by Luiza Erundina who was mayor at that time established “zero fare”. This proposal simply represented to cover the costs of transport by progressive increase of taxes: the richest should pay for this service. The project was filed in the Municipal Chamber and the PT never spoke about that again.

Far from being Utopian, “Fare zero” is totally possible if transport is treated as what it really is: a right of the people and an obligation of the State that cannot be left in the hands of a few entrepreneurs. That is why the PSTU defends the stratification of public transport and free tickets; if this proposal were carried out it would spell great improvement in the level of life of millions of people.

“It is not for the 20 cents alone”

The main demand referred to the annulment of the increase of fares but the demonstrations reflected a much deeper process: “It is not for the 20 cents alone” many posters claimed. A great boiler of popular dissatisfaction exploded against the dismal situation of public health service and education as well as repudiation of the deep corruption of the political system and its representatives.

The great amount of money spent on football stadiums and the organisation of the football (soccer) World Cup in 2014 that the PT administration and the other political parties intended to capitalize politically by showing off a “First World Brazil” in the midst of an orgy of corruption and profit for entrepreneurs friends of the government (like Eike Batista) and even the “privatisation” of the administration of these stadiums built with public money. This lavishness collided against a reality of everyday life of most Brazilians. In a country that loves football, the World Cup was repudiated in and out of the stadiums during the Confederations Cup, a rehearsal of the forthcoming World Cup that popular humour has already re-baptised as the “Cup of the Demonstrations”.

Questioning the banners and raid of right bands

During the demonstrations there was a strong questioning by a sector of the participants against the participation of left parties and other organisation, such as trade unions and the presence of their flags.

Because of the importance of the issue, it is necessary to stop and talk it over. The “apartidism” of many of the participants expresses a very positive aspect: the split with the old parties of the system (the bourgeois and the reformists) responsible for the current situation. Together with this split there is an element of confusion when PT, currently the ruling party, is identified with the “red flags” and the left as a whole failing to tell the difference between those who are fighting against the government and those who are part of it.

Riding on the crest of this feeling, during the demonstrations on Thursday 20th of June, organised groups of neo-Nazis attacked columns of the left, especially those of PSTU in several cities causing clashes that caused several people to be wounded. There was nothing spontaneous about these aggressions: they were boosted by such characters as the retired military man and member of Parliament of the extreme right, Jair Bolsonaro and divers media and sites that called to “defend the non-partisan character” of the demonstrations (and to evict the left organisations) and that the Brazilian flag was to be “the only one present”.

The neo-Nazis and the bourgeois sectors that boost them tried to gain support from this “non-partisan” feeling to carry out aggressions clearly organised and intended to divide the struggle and try and prevent the PSTU (the party left to PT and with the best location for this purpose) from disputing the leadership of this movement and of the ascent that was just budding and in this way give an answer “on the positive” to the crisis of the great parties of the system. This is so, because many of the demands posed by the protesters are part of the programme that this party has been posing for years e.g.: 10% of the GDP is to go for education or free transport. We ought to mention that a few days before a free TV programme of the party exposed that “There is money for the Cup but none for health and education” and this has been one of the central demands of the entire movement.

Coming back to this attempt by the extreme right, if we are to defeat the neo-Nazis we must respond with the strongest unity in the media and in the streets and not only of the left organisations but also of all the honest fighters of the process even if they are “apartisan”. That is why the statements issued by several spokespeople of the MPL (Free Pass Movement) vindicating the participation of left organisations and especially of the PSTU as very positive.

The right and the bounden duty to be there

But apart from that it is necessary to make headway in the dialogue with those who do not agree with the aggressions but who still do believe that left-wingers’ flags (and the left organisations in general) harm or are detrimental for the type of process that they regard as ideal. We understand and we share their repudiation of the parties of the system. We also understand their repudiation of PT and their role as the main party of the system in this last decade. But it is necessary to differentiate the fake red flags from the real ones, those who are fighting arm-in-arm with the demonstrators.

In the first place, the presence of the PSTU flags can mean anything but opportunism. These flags have been with every progressive struggle in the entire country in these last decades, whether against the dictatorship or elected administrations. The PSTU has never been part of a government that implemented bourgeois plans; we have always been clear and steady opposition to them, even if they claimed to be “left”. Furthermore the general demands of these demonstrations coincide with proposed items of our programme launched long before the demonstrations began, and are i.e.: cut down the price of bus, trains and metro fares, 10% of GDP for education or when we expose the character of the World Cup. From this point of view, the banners have a right and an obligation of being there. And that is where we have been right from the very beginning of the demonstrations, even before they became massive.

Secondly, saying “no to parties” everything gets mixed up: the parties against whom we are fighting (like PT or PSDB) and those are support or boost these struggles. The demonstrators as well as people in general must know which parties are on this side in the struggle and which are on the opposite side.

Thirdly, the proposal of “no to the parties” is anti-democratic: everybody ought to have the right how they will participate in the demonstrations: individually, as part of a non-partisan collective or integrated to a party, etc. Nobody can make anybody else to join a party or be part his or her column. But at the same time nobody can refuse anyone else the right to be organised or make him or her abstain from doing so.

And last, let us say that it is divisionism and goes against the very process of mobilisation. This became very clear when the neo-Nazis, concealed behind their costume of “nationalists” and camouflaged with Brazilian flag, attacked PSTU yelling precisely, “no to parties”. This evidenced that, when all is said and done, this a-partisan ideology serves the interests of the bourgeoisie and the establishment.

It is clear that this debate will not be solved soon: the diverse positions respond to deep and varied experiences. What we do propose to all those honest a-partisan activists is to open a dialogue and a debate on the best ways of organising the struggles knowing for sure that we are together fighting in the same trench against the injustice of capitalism and against the governments that maintain these injustices.

How to keep on fighting

As we have already mentioned above, the programme that began to take shape during this process is much more ample than the mere annulment of the 20-cent increase of fares. How to find a solution to the precarious situation of public health service and education? How to cope with the problem of inflation and food shortage? How can we fight against privatisation of e.g.: airports or football stadiums that will only aggravate the situation in benefit of the same ever-privileged entrepreneurs and bankers? How do we contend with criminalisation of struggles and social movements or against the aggressions of the extreme right?

To begin with, for this purpose we need to formulate a common programme of demands and boost the massive entrance of the working class with its methods of struggle and organisation. Consequently, among these demands we must incorporate those that are most felt by workers and by the impoverished toiling masses so that the movement can broaden its bases and increase its fighting capacity. Ze Maria de Almeida, Chairman of the PSTU, expressed it in a recent article,

To begin with, it is necessary for all the organisations of the working class to undertake this challenge and this task. The CSP-Conlutas is participating in this process and is trying to mobilise its grassroots in this direction- The great trade union centrals should really summon for a general strike right now. At this moment what we all need is that everybody should join the struggle. No working class organisation can propose anything less than that.

With this in mind, CSP-Conlutas has launched a proposal of holding a nation-wide day of united struggle for next Thursday, 27th June. The agreement of CSP-Conlutas with Forca Sindical and other centrals to call for a day of paralysation for next 11th July is also very important.

While we are boosting the concrete struggle and participating in it and knowing that triumphs can be achieved we must say that all these unjustness and curses that affect Brazilian toiling masses are the outcome of a country plundered by imperialism associated with great national tycoons in a semi-colonial manner and to the administrations of the establishment whether right wingers or the fake left. That is why any radical solution of our problems needs a socialist revolution precisely to change this semi-colonial structure. In this process, it is essential to build tools of organisation for proletarian struggle and of the toiling masses in general. We also need a revolutionary party determined to be consistent and conscious leader of the process. The PSTU is the most advanced project of that leadership. As we have already said, things have changed in Brazil. Now the central task is to prepare proletarian and responses, mass organisations and the party to fight for this revolution and so make the PSTU chant come true: “neither right nor PT, I want to see workers in power”.

On the other hand, IWL-FI has made a commitment to boost international solidarity and that is why, our organisations in other countries are actively participating in all the demonstrations in solidarity that have already taken place and those that are now taking place or about to take place.

Long live the struggle of Brazilian people!

IS of the IWL

Sao Paulo, 25th June, 2013

[1]PEC 37 (proposal of Constitutional amendment) disallowed the so-called Public Ministry (a kind of official independent prosecution) from investigating cases of corruption and passed this capacity to military and civilian police. This was regarded as an attempt to cushion these investigations.

Interview with the PSTU on the anti-rape agitation

We present below an interview taken earlier in January on the issue of the anti-rape agitations in India. Comrade Adhiraj Bose of the New Wave gave the interview explaining the causes of the upsurge and it’s possible future. The interview was conducted by Comrade Wilson Honório da Silva of the PSTU.

Her name has not been divulgated, but we know she was a 23 years old physiotherapist, who was coming back from a theater with her boyfriend, and was brutally raped, by six men, inside of a bus, on December 16h, what provoked her death, on the 27th. As you point out in your leaflets and materials, unfortunately, this kind of crime is far from being something “new” in India. What is the situation of sexual violence in India? Why, then, this specific case spread a wave of protests all over India?

Adhiraj Bose –I would like to start out by emphasizing, that Indian women are perhaps among the most oppressed in the world. Sexual violence forms a major part of the prevalent modes of oppression of women, which include but are not limited to, female foetecide (killing the woman before birth), dowry deaths, domestic violence, and constant harassment.

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) compiles statistics on crime in the country and as per its records, there are above 24000 rapes happening annually and around 36000 cases of molestations last year alone were reported. Dowry deaths number between 7000 and 8000 annually and in the year 2010 around 8319 dowry deaths happened. I should of course explain a bit about the dowry system in India, the principle of dowry is that the bride’s family must pay a kind of ‘protection money’ for the ‘services rendered’ by the groom’s family in ‘taking care of the bride’. It is not the groom’s family who pays.
Although dowry was abolished in law in 1961, the mere passing of the act has not succeeded in liberating women from this curse, as the family structure remains intact. The murderous family usually finds ways of burying evidence which may implicate them in the crime. The extent of the violence can be gauged by the statistic which shows that there are 100 million missing women in India.

As in the rest of the world, apart from violence, oppression of women takes different forms, which often are combined with capitalist exploitation. How is it in India?

Adhiraj Bose – What I said above constitutes the overt and violent aspect of gender discrimination in India, the covert and regular violence that women have to endure include discrimination at the workplace with lower wages and sub-employment rife among women (over-represented in menial professions like construction work, maid service, anganwadi work [Health centres] and under-represented in management) , deprivation of equal rights in property upon succession (it wasn’t until 2005 that the Hindu succession act was amended and this right was recognized ).

Even today, after 7 years of the amendment being passed, women still don’t enjoy a joint right over their husband’s property. In many cases it has been found that their claim to property has been disrespected by their inlaws leading to mental torture, harassment and forced suicides.

The condition of women minorities is just as bad, with archaic provisions for divorce creating conditions for their misuse. One particularly infamous provision of the Muslim marriage act recognizes the ‘triple talak’ whereby the husband can legally terminate a marriage by uttering “I divorce you” thrice.

The condition of women in the rural sphere is generally worse than in the urban sphere.

This is one area where archaic customs continue to dominate despite the intrusion of modern capitalism. Far from resolving the social tensions at the roots, Indian capitalism has succeeded only in exacerbating them. Semi-feudal lords have used their political connections to become capitalist agriculturists. This is best reflected in the situation in Haryana and other parts of north western India where Khap panchayats [Khap councils, formed by the elite castes, also known as “rajas”] formed by village caste elites dispense justice based on archaic ideas and gender biases.

In December, the protests took place almost daily and throughout the country, which has been touted as a “turning point” in the fight against sexual violence in India. Why is this happening now?

Adhiraj Bose – With this background in mind, we must come to the present situation. The protests in Delhi spiralled into an aggressive revolt rather spontaneously. Before this, there were mass mobilizations around single incidents of rape; notable instances have been during the Khairlanji killings, the case of Jessica Lall.

There is an ongoing movement against the Armed Force (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), which has worked to protect military personnel from rape and sexual crimes charges in northeast India. Irom Sharmila is demanding the repeal of AFSPA and is on a continuous hunger strike which continues till now. AFSPA however, remains in force empowering the armed forces with wide powers of search and seizure in the northeast which give them unfettered access to brutalize the population of the northeast.

The incident in Delhi however, is special for more than one reason. The initially peaceful protests were met by police violence, which spurred on further more intense agitations, which later on assumed the form of open revolt. Once the situation became tense in Delhi, the rest of the nation woke up and we found protests evolving in every major city.

What are the prospects regarding the continuity of mobilizations?

Adhiraj Bose – The wave continues now, even though it has ebbed considerably since the start of the protests. This is the second time in this year, that such a large scale spontaneous eruption has been seen, the first being the anti-corruption protests last year which was again spurred on by police violence.

We have earlier stated that India is presently in a critical pre-revolutionary stage where such uprisings, revolts and mobilizations will emerge. This trend we have traced to 2009 when clear signs of working class militancy were emerging in the sugar worker’s strike and the motormen strike in Maharashtra, and the peasant uprisings across eastern and central India. The world situation was tense then, and has become tenser now and we are noticing the trend is becoming only more and more aggressive.

On this particular incident of rape, the tolerance of the masses had already reached their threshold, and all pent up anger was unleashed against the government and the system it espouses. Some of the slogans at Delhi, at least, assumed a very general character; “Down with capitalism” was a popular slogan. That is reflective of the deep character of this movement and the implications are far reaching.

5. Just a day before the death, on the 26th, another girl died after being raped, in the district of Patiala. It’s said that she committed suicide after denouncing being raped on November 13th, in a Hindu Festival in Diwali. According to the girl’s family, when they tried to register the crime in the police station they were mocked, the girl was harassed and nothing was done. Is this the typical treatment given by the police for this kind of cases? What are your demands in relation to that?

Adhiraj Bose – In this context, it’s important to gauge the role of the police. The police throughout this protest wave have shown tremendous insensitivity and brutality in suppressing the protests in Delhi. In Pune the police were reluctant to allow even limited peaceful marches in the city, although there was no resort to violence. There was no need for that here at least.

The immediate incidents aside, the police have performed most ignominiously in dealing with sexual crimes in India and are notorious for corrupt practices. Not limited of course to the treatment of sexual crimes. A combination of chauvinism and apathy has made police enforcement in this sphere of policing a total waste. Often policemen are reluctant to record FIRs relating to rape, using the false categorization of ‘genuine case’ vs. ‘false case’.

Within the police force itself, there are hardly any women, and the force is by and large a male dominated force with minimal participation of women. The total participation of women in India’s police force has been reported to be as low as 3.98% of the total force size.

To this our proposal is twofold : 1) In the immediate time, we must remove the policemen who have shown insensitivity towards women during the policing in Delhi, 2) in the long run, demand for more representation of women in police and the creation of specialized cells in police stations for dealing with sexual violence and LGBT issues. Part of this campaign would be to make the existing cells more functional.

6. The Brazilian press is highlighting the demand for Capital Punishment for rapists. What is The New Wave’s position on that?

Adhiraj Bose – The sorry state of affairs of enforcement and conviction of rapists, have led to a very frustrated expression of anger which has presently assumed the form of demanding the death penalty.

Whilst we do sympathize with the mass anger being expressed we do not support any demand for imposition of death penalty. We do not stand in principle for giving the bourgeois a weapon of legalized murder. India already has provision for death penalty and by reports it has been more abused than used. (The People’s Union for Democratic rights cites 1422 executions having occurred in India between 1953 and 1963 alone) The media in India are focussing on the demand for death penalty and overall ‘stricter punishment’ for rapists.

However, the despicable strategy behind all of this is to distract the mobilizations to a dead end. Vent the anger to a dead end of execution and make sure the whole movement is pacified. Additionally, the government would also like to paint the protestors in colours of banality and barbarism, the ones demanding death penalty particularly those who do not belong to any organization are useful for painting this essentially false and one-sided image of the mobilizations. From your account it seems the international press is also playing its part in the falsifications.

7. In your leaflets you say that sexual violence targets mainly women, but also is strong against LGBT. Brazil has an average of 300 LGBT killed by year in homophobic attacks. What is the situation in India? How is the LGBT movement in your country and how is it acting in relation to the present situation?

Adhiraj Bose – Whilst it is true that our leaflet focusses on only one angle of sexual violence, that is only because it focusses on the immediate mobilization and we intended to express our support to the mobilizations.

However, our programmatic position on violence and gender based discrimination takes into account the LGBT spectrum as well. In India, the movement is quite nascent in nature compared to Brazil. It is presently dominated by elite bourgeois leadership without the participation of the poor. However, that is changing with the movement becoming wider and increasingly more acceptable in the larger spectrum of movements.

Presently, the movement for LGBT rights is gathering ground around the abolition of section 377 which outlaws homosexual sexual practices under the pretext of ‘unnatural sex’. An important judgement was passed in the Delhi high court which recognized that this section was outdated and needed to be struck down. However, the law has yet to be amended, and the case is pending in the Supreme Court currently. In relation to the present situation, the LGBT community broadly sympathizes with the rape survivor and sympathizes with the protests at large.

8. Due to the wave of protests, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was forced to make the judiciary sue the men who were involved in the rape in the bus. Bikram Singh, leader of the Congress Party in the state of Assam, was arrested, accused of attacking a girl (on Monday, December 31). It seems that these decisions are unprecedented, since, as you say in the pamphlet, there are 369 politicians involved in such cases. What are the expectations for these facts?

Adhiraj Bose – The ‘unprecedented’ actions of the Indian government was in the face of overwhelming protests. Something had to be done to douse the people’s ire. The rapists being tried with this rapidity was the result of mass pressure which forced the normally nonchalant government to act.

This is not the first instance of mass pressure forcing the state to act to its whims, earlier in the case of Jessica Lall, mass pressure played a pivotal role in influencing judicial opinion for punishing Manu Sharma who was accused in the murder case. In the Khairlanji protests as well, mass pressure had an influence over judicial processes where death sentence was passed. However, even in this case the final verdict was passed after 2 years of the actual incident, a remarkable pace considering that cases can linger in court for well over a decade.

Eventually, the higher court turned down the death sentence of the session’s court and commuted the death sentence awarded in that matter to a 25 year rigorous imprisonment. Given this example and others like it, I remain somewhat pessimistic about the process against the rapists. I would be surprised, however, if a stern order is not passed by the judiciary in this matter.

9. What are the proposals of the New Wave for the continuity of the mobilizations?

Even if this individual case be dealt with strictly, the fundamental question of law reforms would remain unanswered. With a good number of politicians and legislators themselves being accused of rape and sexual charges, I would expect some sort of opposition from them in parliament. What form this opposition would take would remain to be seen; at this point, the bourgeois would most likely try to hide and concede to mass pressure than reveal their true character and have their heads chopped. The case of the Assamese Congress party leader is significant in this case, a recent news report showed villagers beating him in public!

A campaign which focusses on cleansing the political structure in the country of such sexist and brute elements would constitute a very vital part of a larger campaign for gender equality and must unquestionably form a part of the whole struggle against patriarchy in India. For this we have demanded de-recognition of all such politicians who have been charged with sexual crimes be they MPs, MLAs, and politicians with party tickets being fielded during elections.

The New Wave group’s present focus is to try to build up such a campaign for de-recognition with organizations involved in the fight against gender discrimination. We are presently working on that agenda. The idea of it is to suspend the position of the politician till the charge is proven, and strip him of all responsibilities pertaining to representation. If the charges are proven, to press charges and move ahead with process of law. Such people must then be banned permanently from political life.